Lionel Messi puts Olympic gold medal in context of career

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Lionel Messi owns titles from La Liga, the U-20 World Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

His most prized trophy?

“The Olympic gold in 2008 is the win that I value the most,” Messi said, according to a Goal.com translation of a Spanish Esquire interview, “because it is a tournament that you may only play in once in your life and involves many athletes from different disciplines.”

Messi, then 21, helped lead Argentina to Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, his only Olympic appearance.

“The fact that we have been to the athletes village and met famous sportsmen, it’s all an experience that we will not forget quickly,” Messi said in 2008, according to The Associated Press.

The Olympic men’s soccer tournament is mostly made up of players 23 and younger, with veteran stars typically not taking part. Messi may have been able to play at the Rio Olympics, but the Copa America Centenario took precedence for Argentina’s national team last summer.

Without him, Argentina was knocked out in group play in Brazil.

One would think a World Cup title would triumph all for Messi.

“World Cup is great,” he said in May, according to ESPN, “but Olympics are something special.”

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